Patriots notebook

Looks like Brady will be focus

QB continues to make progress article page player in wide format.
By Christopher L. Gasper and Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / May 28, 2009
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Tom Brady told Sports Illustrated his knee is fine. The Patriots' website showed snippets of the franchise quarterback practicing yesterday. However, today will provide the first extended look at Brady and his repaired left knee.

Today is the third day of the Patriots' four-day organized team activities that started Tuesday, and the only day that is open to the media. Brady practiced again yesterday; the team's website posted a one-minute-nine-second video that showed Brady, clad in sweat pants, throwing passes and running through an agility drill with a ball tucked under his arm.

He showed no ill effects from the torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments he suffered against the Chiefs Sept. 7. A medical source who has been consulted on Brady's case said the quarterback is "well ahead of the curve," and the only thing that could stop Brady's comeback now would be reinjuring the knee.

The source said the quarterback is done with the formal rehabilitation phase of his comeback from the Oct. 6surgery, but cautioned that with an injury like Brady's rehabilitation is perpetual because additional work is needed to maintain strength and flexibility in the knee.

"He's in the training phase. He's out of rehab," said the source. "He'll have to maintain strength. Whenever you've had an injury like that strength won't stay unless you work hard to maintain it because you don't have the neurological strength to maintain it. He's in what we call bridge protocol, bridging from rehab to game protocol."

The source said laxity, or looseness, in the MCL, which was a possible concern in January, is no longer an issue and that the largest remaining hurdles for Brady are mental, not physical.

"He won't feel like he's there until he takes a few hits on it," the source said. "He's just got to redevelop the confidence. He still has some [knee] endurance issues and thigh atrophy. He's still got that to do. He'll be working on that all summer."

Lenon signs
The Patriots are traveling to London in October to play the Buccaneers, but yesterday Paris came to them. Free agent inside linebacker Paris Lenon, who spent the last three seasons with the Lions, signed a one-year deal with the team.

"Paris is excited to finally be a part of a winning organization and eager to contribute in whatever way Coach [Bill ] Belichick and his staff see fit. Now, quite simply, he's eager to go to work," said Jon Persch, Lenon's agent.

The 31-year-old Lenon provides the Patriots with depth at inside linebacker after third-round pick Tyrone McKenzie was lost for the season when he tore the ACL in his right knee May 2 during rookie minicamp. The 6-foot-2-inch, 235-pound Lenon was the Lions' starting middle linebacker in their 4-3 scheme for each of the last two seasons, and split time in 2006 between strongside and middle linebacker.

Last year, he led the 0-16 Lions in tackles with 146. In 2007, he had a career-high 161 tackles and scored his first career touchdown on a 61-yard interception return. Lenon, who worked at a post office in 2000 after being cut by Carolina and had stints in the defunct NFL Europe and the XFL, has played in 112 games with 523 career tackles, 5 sacks, and 2 interceptions in seven seasons with Green Bay and Detroit.

While undersized to play inside in the Patriots' 3-4, Lenon is tough and durable. He has not missed a game in his career and has started 63 consecutive.

Lenon also provides value on special teams as he was a key member of Detroit's punt unit and has 58 career special teams tackles.

The addition of Lenon put the roster at 79 players under contract, one below the NFL limit. The team's 12 unsigned draft picks don't count toward that limit.

Hall vote
Voting for the Patriots Hall of Fame closes at midnight Sunday. Defensive lineman Houston Antwine (1961-71), center Jon Morris (1964-74), and running back Jim Nance (1965-71) are the candidates. Nance was the 1966 American Football League MVP and his 45 rushing touchdowns remain a club record. Morris was a seven-time AFL All-Star, and Antwine was a six-time AFL All-Star.

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